How To Buy a Forklift: Tips To Help You Make the Right Decision

June 21, 2022 - Last modified: July 26, 2022 @ 3:14 pm

Whether you run a warehouse or work in an industry where you must haul heavy equipment, materials, or products, you may be considering buying a forklift. If you're new to purchasing heavy machinery, there are details and guidelines to follow to make the right choice.

What Is a Forklift?

Forklifts, also called powered industrial trucks, are primarily used to move materials. They are small industrial vehicles with a forked platform. They are used to move things in boxes, crates, or pallets.

Various industries utilize forklifts. When choosing a truck, you can choose between combustion engine-powered lifts or battery-powered electric machines. Additionally, you can choose a forklift that needs a person to sit to operate it or one where the operator stands beside it.

What Are the Components of a Forklift?

When preparing to buy a forklift, understanding the ins and outs of your machinery helps you make a more educated choice. The following are the components necessary for a forklift to function.


The truck frame is your forklift's foundation. It is one of the essential elements of the lift because it is where all other components attach. For example, the mast, wheels, and counterweight are connected to the truck's frame.


The purpose of your forklift is to haul, rise and lower heavy objects. The counterweight is cast iron and attached to the rear of the machine. If you have a truck that runs on electricity, you'll find the counterweight attached to the lead-acid battery.


Your mast lifts and lowers the lows. Generally, you'll have interlocking rails that provide horizontal control. Often, you may have a mast that also has rollers.


The carriage is your forklift's base. It is fixed on your mast to move it up and down as necessary.

Lifting Mechanism

For a forklift to function, it uses roller chain pulleys and hydraulic cylinders.

Your lift's handle attaches to an electrical air pump at the forklift's base. When you press the handle, the air pump triggers draws air through the filter and forces it to the hydraulic cylinders. These hollow tubes have a flexible piston on one end and are closed on the other. When the air becomes trapped in the base of the cylinder, it allows gases to enter but not escape. The volume of gas is what raises the pressure. The pressure applied to the piston head generates force to move it up and increase the gas volume.

The hydraulic pistons use a roller chain pulley system. The forks are attached to the body using a pair of roller chain pulleys. The pulleys form a gear on top of the mast. Forklifts require a chain pulley system to lift higher items. Without a chain, the hydraulic cylinders would need to be taller.

What Are the Advantages of Buying a Forklift for Your Business?

Buying a forklift is a significant business investment. Before you finalize your purchase, you must ensure that your company will benefit from the new machinery. These are some of the most common advantages of forklifts for warehouses.

Better Storage Options

Making the most out of the storage in your warehouse is critical. How much floor space are you taking up in your warehouse? Businesses that don't have forklifts tend to have pallets and crates on the ground to access them easily. When you have a machine capable of lifting heavy loads up and down, you can store more on the higher shelves of your warehouse. This frees up plenty of space in the warehouse, and you can invest in more shelving and tall storage options.

More Efficiency

Buying a forklift can give your business the boost it needs in sales and productivity. However, organizing heavy loads takes a lot of time and manpower. You may be unable to move large amounts of product at once because your employees cannot handle the amount alone. A forklift allows a limited number of workers to lift heavy products and organize and move large amounts through the warehouse. You can work at maximum capacity when you have the right heavy machinery.

When you have your workers moving loads by hand, there are a lot of limits to what they can accomplish and how quickly they can accomplish it. Forklifts have powerful engines and are often built with maneuverability in mind to complete work in a snap.

Safer and Easier Transportation

Safety should be a top priority in every warehouse. Lifting heavy loads or carrying them can become a safety hazard for your workers. Forklifts allow them to sit in a comfortable, durable cab when hauling loads. Not only do the tasks become easier, but the employees are safer. To ensure forklifts remain safe, train your staff in the secure handling of machinery. All workers should be certified and trained to operate the forklift.

What Businesses Can Benefit From Buying a Forklift?

Warehouse companies are among the most common businesses to take advantage of buying a forklift. However, they aren't the only industry that can benefit from having a forklift on site. Many companies see more efficiency when this heavy machinery is added to the arsenal of tools.


During the World Wars, large amounts of arms and supplies had to be transported via ships. The use of heavy equipment to move heavy equipment from boats and barges began decades ago. Nowadays, you can still find forklifts in dockyards, which transport containers from trucks onto ships. The most common materials transported by forklifts in dockyards are lumber and steel.

Construction Companies

Construction sites need various types of heavy equipment. A forklift can carry building materials over rough terrain. Lift trucks have multiple functions that allow them to keep their balance on different terrain. They are useful for making long-distance hauls across a construction site and unloading pallets of heavy supplies, like bricks and steel joists. 

Recycling Organizations

As more people become aware of the need for recycling, your recycling operation needs to keep up with the demand. Forklifts can unload recycling trucks and containers and transport the materials to different organizations and sorting stations. You can use a lift truck to unload anything from tractor-trailers to railway cars or elevators. If you have items you fear may fall off the fork, you can attach a cage.

Snowplowing Companies

Did you know you can attach a plow to an industrial forklift? Buying a forklift can make the job easier if you work for a city or a snowplow company. Likewise, having a lift truck can help you do the job yourself if you work in an area with a lot of snow. Instead of hiring a snowplow to rid your parking lot and outdoor walkways of snow, all you need is your forklift.

How Can You Buy the Right Forklift for Your Business?

Buying a forklift is an important decision for your company. However, your forklift choice depends on a variety of factors.

Choosing Between New and Used

The determining factor between new and used machinery is how you plan to use it. For example, if your forklift will be used for more than four hours every day, you may not want a used vehicle. Generally, you'll get fewer hours out of a used forklift. Many require critical repairs between 6,000 and 10,000 hours. When you have a new truck, you have more dependability.

Likewise, if you need a lot of accessories or attachments, you may have to wait longer to find a used forklift that matches your specifications. It may be easier to choose a new one.

However, if you cannot wait to add a forklift to your business's tool arsenal, try looking for a used one. Often, you can find several in stock. Likewise, a used forklift allows you to maximize your dollar if you have a limited budget. A used lift truck may cost about half of a new one and may have the same power as a newer model.

If you plan on less than four hours of usage daily, you may be better off buying a used forklift. You don't need to spend as much on a brand-new model if you don't have to use it half as often.

Choosing the Type of Forklift

There are a wide variety of styles and models of forklifts available. For example, a warehouse forklift is the most common type around. You may think of a golf cart with a fork on the front when you see it. A sideloader, on the other hand, is a little less ordinary and is generally used in warehouses. You may see them in steel centers or heavy items facilities. In a sideloader, the operator stands in a sideways compartment. These types of forklifts handle narrow aisles well.

A telehandler lifts objects to a higher level than other forklifts. You may see these types of forklifts on construction sites. Also called the telescopic forklift, it looks like a combination of a forklift and a crane. Rough terrain lifts also have a specific design to handle outdoor jobs better. They have sturdy, oversized tires to move over uneven surfaces.

The pallet jack is a smaller forklift. It cannot lift large loads, but it can easily fit in tight spaces and lift smaller loads. The idea behind pallet jacks is to be flexible and versatile without being strong. They run on a battery rather than a combustion engine. The walkie stacker is also better suited to stay indoors. The operator walks behind it instead of using a cab and a handle to steer it. The walkie stacker is similar to a pallet jack, except it reaches higher off the ground.

A counterbalance forklift has the forks in the front and weight in the back. If you have a counterbalance fork, you will not have extending arms. Instead, the lift moves directly to the load. You can find various types of counterbalance forklifts. For instance, three-wheel variants allow an operator to turn in tight circles. A stand-up counterbalance enables the driver to quickly get on and off between loads.

Choosing Forklift Capacity

The higher the capacity, the more money you're looking to spend when buying a forklift. Bigger is not always better if you do not carry significant or hefty loads. Think about your warehouse or business and consider the max loads you may need to take compared to the average load. Choose a forklift that makes sense for your business.

The forklift's design determines how much it can carry. You must think about the capacity, the stability triangle, and the load center. The maximum load capacity is how much your equipment can carry while remaining stable. The stability triangle is under the machine and maintains the vehicle's center of gravity. On the other hand, the load center is the distance from the fork to the center of gravity.

Choosing Tires and Accessories

Your tire choice depends on where you operate. Cushion tires are ideal for your work indoors. Solid pneumatic tires are ideal for outdoor jobs. Indoor tires require a tighter turning radius but do not need to be as durable as outdoor tires.

Accessories and attachments are also critical when buying a forklift. Different extensions may aid in productivity or assist with particular loads. 

Trust Forklift Inventory When Buying a Forklift

When it comes to forklifts, we know how important it is for you to choose the right one. At Forklift Inventory, we have something that matches any business's needs. When investing in this equipment, always consider buying a forklift over renting. Heavy machinery will pay for itself over time as it helps you increase productivity. Get a quote today from one of the most trusted names in the industry for over ten years.

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